Are you a Florida senior? Have you completed your estate plan and annually meet with your estate planning attorney to keep it updated? How about your long-term care planning? Are you familiar with what long-term care is? Most people are familiar with acute care, which is taking care of an immediate injury or illness by seeing your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Long-term care addresses the needs of an aging individual who is no longer able to care for him- or herself. Unfortunately, it is rarely discussed until it is a necessity and then it is often too late to plan well. A key reason to prepare your long-term care plan early.
Again, long-term care focuses on the needs of an aging person. The senior often is more advanced in age and has needs that cannot be met independently anymore, in other words, he or she needs assistance from another person. Be aware that this assistance may take different forms. For example, it might include:
- Housekeeping chores,
- Keeping someone company,
- Managing medication,
- Bathing or walking,
- Meal preparation, or
- Bill paying and financial management.
Be aware that the above list seems to encompass a broad range of tasks, but there may be more, and this is the nature of long-term care. Because the needs are as varied as there are individuals who need it, it is key to start your long-term care early.
Another key to starting long-term care early is that long-term care is not only for the elderly. Sometimes long-term care becomes a necessity after an injury or serious and advancing illness. For example, if a person of any age suffers a stroke there could be long-term ramifications impacting the person both cognitively and physically. These challenges could result in the need for a caregiver who could assist the person in need of care in his or her day-to-day tasks either on a short term basis, during the phases of recovery, or on a long-term basis.
As a senior on Medicare, can Medicare help with long-term care? Unfortunately, the Medicare system is not set up at present to provide sustainable solutions for long-term care needs. Medicare is primarily set up to take care of acute treatment for illnesses and hospital care. After the stay in a hospital, however, there is very little coverage to help a senior who may need more significant long-term care needs provided for. The long-term care setting could be in a number of different places, for example, aging in place in the home, assisted living facility, or skilled nursing facility. In those settings seniors are facing a different type of care called custodial care. With custodial care there are a limited number of days Medicare will assist in the payment for this type of care.
With the high daily and monthly costs for long-term care it is key to begin long-term planning early. Most families do not have the financial resources set aside to pay for the cost of long-term care on top of their regular bills and obligations. There is long-term care insurance available, however, the majority of Americans have not invested in it at a time when they could qualify for the benefits. Early planning is key to qualifying for long-term care insurance. To learn more about the cost of care in our state, you can click this link to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey to identify the costs for home-based assisted living, or skilled nursing home care.
So, how do seniors or their family members afford long-term care when it is needed? There are government benefit programs such as Medicaid and the Veterans Affairs pension program designed to help with the high monthly cost of long-term care. These programs are, however, based not only on health care needs but on eligibility standards for income and assets. There are strategies available to help the person in need of long-term care qualify to receive these benefits but the key is the majority of the strategies are available only when you plan early.
We know this article may raise more questions than answers. No matter where you are in life’s journey, we can help. Whether you need to update your estate plan, are preparing for future long-term care needs, or have a loved one entering or already in a nursing home, we are ready to assist you. We have 3 convenient locations and are ready to serve the communities around Highlands and Polk County, Florida. Take your first step by contacting us today.